Penne For Your Thoughts.


Small of Duty

By Branding & DesignNo Comments

Strange thing to say coming from a branding guy – yeah me, a graphic designer that’s designed a crap-ton of logos in my lifetime. But lemme say it again…

Your small business does not need a logo!

Honestly, unless you’re well-funded by an angel investor – and last time I checked, most start-ups are not – then you’re better off investing your time and cashola on getting a decent website up and launching on social. Once you’re established and raking in the dough, that’ll be the time to level-up.

Come back to us then for a full brand development. And bring donuts this time, sheesh.

Ok, but lemme clarify what I mean by a “logo.”

Full Graphic Logo

Designing a well-researched and well-crafted logo can run into the thousands. It takes designers time and energy to develop words and symbols into something meaningful and memorable. We don’t just draw purty logos. And it almost always includes a custom illustrated image or graphic icon that represents the business is some way. This aint no clip-art logo.

A full logo often includes the entire brand too. Considerations for typography, colours, imagery, voice and the kitchen sink. The brand’s personality is developed and presented as a nice neat package.

So, yeah, it’s more than just a logo. A logo you just don’t need. Yet.


Instead, we often suggest that small business focus on getting a simple wordmark logo designed – at a fraction of the cost. Apparently, I like talking myself out of a bigger sale.

Wordmarks are a unique text-only typographic treatment of your company name. A focus-on-fonts as we like to say. And are done lightning fast to keep the costs low. We then package your wordmark with a great colour palette and a few great images to create what we call, a “mini-brand.” This is all you need to launch your business when it comes to web and social. A mini-brand for a mini-budget.

Oh, and those $5 logos…

Yep, you can buy a logo for five bucks. In some cases it works out alright, but invariably those who choose this route come back to us later, realizing it aint working. But that also has something to do with those who buy a $5 logo probably don’t invest in a decent site or a web-dev company to build a professional site. But that’s a whole other discussion.

But really, what’s so bad about a $5 logo?

Well, buying a low-cost, low-quality logo can hurt your brand. Your potential clients can easily spot amateur design and will judge your business as less-than-professional. Ouch. Take a look at Jason Li’s article, he nails it…
“If your logo looks amateurish, so does your business.”

So, if you’re about to launch a small business, connect with us and let’s chat about what you need. And what you don’t. We’d be happy to walk you thru it. If you’re an enterprise-level biz, then we be havin’ a different conversation.

Oh deer, Christmas is here!

By TipsNo Comments

Marketers were well-prepared this year. We’ve already designed their eCards, Christmas cards and festive-themed content. But we know some of you procrastinate. We do too, so maybe, just maybe, this post will light a fire.

So, put on the yule-log, here are 4 Holiday-themed marketing items you can do right now.


Many people feel that eCards are a tad impersonal, and maybe effortless. They’re not wrong, but for those with tight budgets, this is still a great solution, and the bare minimum you should do. We design a lot of these, so they can be whipped-up in no time. Oh, and Canva is a great place for the elf-taught designer or for those with an even tighter budget.

Christmas Cards

With so much online clutter this year, a lot of Marketers chose to design, print and mail Christmas Cards. One client tripled the quantity from 2,000 to 6,000, wow! It’s amazing how mail and direct mail get eyeballs, so I’d argue that this is the year to consider print. We’ve got a tree-mendous print-partner and can get smaller quantities done before the big day.

Social Posts

Make your Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook lit this season. But think beyond one simple post and design two or three of ‘em. And don’t go for the safe, conservative stock images. Yawn! Be memorable and make an impact. From Happy Holidays to expressing gratitude and wishes for the New Year, now is the time to get those messages out on your social channels.

Hey wait, no puns? Don’t worry, there will be myrrh.

Holiday Themed Content

While it may take time to design and develop new content for the Holidays, we suggest giving your existing content a festive-facelift. What a great opportunity to re-release your sales deck, white paper or infographic with a Holiday theme. We’ll even show you how to do it tactfully and on-brand. Oh, and don’t fir-get your website. It’s easy to add a Holiday message to your home page right now.

So, unsure how to start? Message me and I’ll walk you through the process. It’s snow easy.

And finally, can I get a round of Santa-plause?

Ugh, enough Greg.

Fa-boo-lous Ghosting Stories

By Client RelationsNo Comments

I wish I knew why. New clients often turn to us when their graphic designer has ghosted them – and I wish I knew why.

“Our designer has disappeared off the face of the earth.”
“I’ve emailed him three times, but he’s not responding.”
“Apparently, the designer has flown the coop.”

These are the ones we know about, and naturally we were able to help – and acquired new clients in the process. But as a graphic designer myself, it irks me that my fellow designers treat clients this way.

The fading-phenom has become all too real as gig sites like and 99designers surge in popularity. And though these are the source of most ghosting stories, I said I wouldn’t bash them when I wrote this. So I’ll just SMH and walk away.

So, d’ya have a ghost story for us?

C’mon, spill the tea. We want to hear your “ghosted by my designer” story. Leave us a comment, message me or send me an email. We’d really like to know why this keeps happening to Marketers like you and what you’ve done about it.

Oh, in my previous post, Ghosted by my Graphic Designer, I suggested that Marketers could vet the designer like a job interview, but I realize it’s too late for that now. So, if your designer is constantly blowing deadlines or you’re having to repeatedly ask (beg) them for updates, that’s a red flag, and your designer may soon become a vanishing act.

Amp up your design know-how.

By Client RelationsNo Comments

We know Marketers like you often have to do your own graphic design. And with apps like Photoshop, InDesign, Canva and Powerpoint, creating content can be fast and easy. But c’mon man, those are just tools.

And just ‘cause I can play Oasis’ Wonderwall on the guitar, that doesn’t make me a Rockstar –mastering those design apps doesn’t make anyone a designer.

But diving into blog posts and articles on graphic design can really help. So, amp up your design know-how by coming back here often to read our design tips like Nacho Average Tips and Abandon All Tips.

You may not become a Rockstar overnight, but we’re betting your content will get more eyeballs and convert more leads. All by amping up your design.

Abandon All Tips

By TipsNo Comments

So, how many blogs about graphic design have you read? Did you find any particularly useful? We figured a better way to learn, is to abandon those complex design tips and focus on the simple things. You may be a hot mess when it comes to DIY graphic design, so just we wanna save your soul.

But if this is your first time here, check out our last post Nacho Average Tips. If you’re able to implement any of our advice and elevate your design, then just know my Team loves Krispy Kreme. Original glazed if you please.

So, shall we jump right in?

Go Big or Go Gnome.

Graphic designers often write about type hierarchy like you already know what the hell it is. Simply put, it means the message that’s the most important, should be set in the biggest font size. Prob your headline. And then using various-sized type, you can direct their eyeballs to where you want them to go next.

You can use color, spacing, weight, and other factors to create this hierarchy, but working with type size is better. The goal is to guide your reader through the entire piece of content and hopefully (if not insurance-webinar-dull), tap on the call-to-action. The ultimate goal of graphic design.

Oh, and check out this hierarchy magic right here…

White of the Living Dead.

Your audience can easily spot amateur graphic design vs professional design – and a dead giveaway of an amateur post is a logo in a white box. Honestly, it’s gawd awful and likely caused by the .jpg file you imported into the layout.

A .jpg logo comes with a white background, but a .png is transparent and can be placed on virtually any coloured background. Cool, huh?

When possible though, it’s better to use a vector file (.svg .eps .ai) but ask your graphic designer or marketer for the right file type. Any self-respecting designer will provide all of the necessary logo files to your company, arranged neatly by what each is used for.

Don’t be Flank Sinatra.

You know when people place emojis, flags or icons on both sides of a headline? We call that “book-ends” or “flank the headline.” Your headline doesn’t need decoration, so this is a bit on the amateurish side too.

Taking that further, your reader needs to find the starting point to engage with your post, but if you place a cute emoji to the left of that, it makes it difficult to read. Trivial maybe, but we’re talking about simple fixes to your design, and this is just one of those things that makes content harder to read.

So, knot bad, eh?

Well, nautical puns aside, this post was easy – and the tips are simple enough to implement right now. And while they seem awfully simple, mastering graphic design is often about getting the small things right. Come back again. I’ll post more tips if I’m not distrac ­– hey, who brought donuts?

Soooo, you’re hangry for puns?

By Client RelationsNo Comments

Perfect, then you’ve come to the right place. We often post short, easy to follow tips that Marketers like you may find useful. At the very least, we may entertain you for 28.5 seconds. If you lol, then come back again. Agreed?

But why puns?

Well, pun of a gun. You just realized we use an unhealthy amount of puns. But why not? Do you really want to read more design articles on color psychology, the Golden Ratio and Gestalts Principles? Hells no. Leave the heavy lifting to your graphic designer. We want you to spend time getting to know us, and how easy going we are. I wanted to do Dad jokes, but my Team suggested puns were funnerer.

That’s it. Nice to see you (literally, we have awesome analytics), but have a look around and share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you.

Ok, on to the main blog page. But don’t forget to come back. We’re not just a pun hit wonder, you know.

Nacho Average Tips

By TipsNo Comments

So, you’ve come here looking for graphic design tips, huh?

Well, we aint gonna be talking about colour theory, white space or the anatomy of typography. How about some actual, useable design tips that you can implement right now?

And let’s start with the stuff DIY-designers and design newbies get wrong (but are easily fixable). It’s ok, we’re not judging, we just wanna help YOU make better content.

Margins (or lack thereof).

For the love of margins, back off from the edge, will ya? When you place text and images too close to the page edge, ­it’s claustrophobic. Like when you’re jammed in a tiny elevator facing your work-crush and you had garlic pesto for lunch. It’s embarrassing. But in reality, it makes the reader work too hard to know where to begin.

Make your margins at least 50 pixels. Hmm, make that 60.

Gotta make this stand out. And this. And that too.

Noooooo! You do not. Listen, your readers are scrolling so fast, that it’s better to keep your layout simple. Focus on ONE message and make THAT stand out to catch their eye. Hook ‘em and if it’s important enough, they’ll stop ­– wait a minute, fill my cup…

– damn, sorry for the Uptown Funk distraction.

But yeah, avoid underlining, highlighting and go easy on the bolding too. K?

Superfluous is an excessively long word.

When people create ads and posts on social, they often add words that are unnecessary. Superfluous words. Like when I’m explaining to my wife that I’m golfing again on Sunday, I tend over communicate and use more words hoping it will justify my request. But we know less is more and it gets to the point faster… Golf Sunday? No? Ok, sure then, I’d love to watch the Hallmark Channel with you.

By removing extra words, your reader will absorb your message faster and will retain it longer.

So, are those enough tips for now? Check back often as I’ll try to add more. I probably won’t though as I’m often distrac ­

– hey, who brought donuts?

But I will def post more useful content for you. Design content. Cause I’m a (we’re) designers.

Ghosted by my Graphic Designer

By Branding & DesignNo Comments

Has your designer truly disappeared, or have they dropped you like third period French?

We wanted to know what’s happening when a freelancer fades the client, so we asked some marketers we know.

In two cases, the designer got a full time job and left them in a lurch. The third one took on more work than she could handle and just wasn’t responding. Frus-tra-ting.

We also heard about designers that went back to school, ones that could only talk after 5pm, and one that would only talk by email. No phone calls please! And the most curious one? Designers that seem to just fall off the face of the earth. Ghosted!

Now don’t get me wrong, my creative agency loves freelance designers and we have a healthy respect for them – but just as there are great designers out there, this post is about making sure you hire the right one at the onset.

So, if you’re about to hire a designer, we suggest vetting them as if they were applying for a job in your business…

  1. Have they been freelancing long? Check their work history. Did they bounce from job to job? That may be a sign of instability or boredom. Look for one that has dug in.
  2. Have they just been laid off or packaged out? Will they commit for the long term or is this a temporary fix until they land a new job?
  3. Check their website and look for clients that match your business size. Are you too big for them?
  4. Call those clients and ask them about their experience. Most will tell you they love their designer, but some will be candid and tell you the truth.
  5. And finally, have a look at their social media channels. Are you dealing with a professional, or someone that does “design” as a side hustle?

There are many awesome graphic designers out there – finding and keeping a good one is the goal. But if you have enough work to rely on someone every week, then consider hiring a design company or a creative agency. Having access to several designers, each with different talent can work to your advantage. Like this client of ours…

“Greg, one of the things I love about your in-house designers, is that I never have to worry about getting our marketing material done on time.”

Ok, I have to go. A new client is asking us to take over from where her freelancer left off. No one can find her working files, so we’ll have to rebuild everything. But that’s ok, we’ve got this.

Get your designer to listen

By Branding & DesignNo Comments

Ever have a project come back from your graphic designer and find it’s no where near what you had in mind? I’m guessing the answer is a resounding yes!

Well, you’re not alone and we’ve heard all about this from many new clients over the years. The number one issue these marketers tell us – in working with their previous designer or agency – is a lack of listening skills. And when pressed about what they did to fix the issue, the answers and excuses they heard varied.

Designers are very opinionated and are quick to defend themselves …

  • “I thought this would be better and way cool”
  • “We didn’t have enough time”
  • “There was no direction”
  • “You didn’t supply a creative brief”
  • “The creative brief was confusing”
  • “I can’t read your mind”
  • “But we’re the experts”

As a marketer, those probably sound familiar, and I’m betting it’s caused you plenty of distress waiting for a redesign. So, do you simply replace your designer? Well, not yet as I’m sure they usually do a decent job, but here are some things your designer should be asking you. At the onset …

  • Are they asking the purpose of the project?
  • Do they ask for a sample of a previous piece?
  • Are deadlines or expectations addressed?
  • Have they asked for a creative brief?
  • Do they ask for all the assets up front, requesting logos, photos, branding guidelines?
  • Are they asking questions to gain understanding?
  • Do they paraphrase what you just told them?

A good designer or design agency should be listening, and should deliver what you’ve asked for. An even better creative partner should be providing you options, perhaps one layout matching your brief, and another that they’d like you to consider.

However, let’s be reasonable. A designer will occasionally miss the mark, but if they want to grow the relationship, they should be listening more.

As for me, I’ve been practicing ‘active listening’ with my wife for some time now, and she says I’m a much better husband for it. Now if only I’d put my clothes in the damn hamper already!